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Doing Lines of Powdered Alcohol Is 'Impractical': Palcohol Inventor

Getting face-meltingly drunk the old-fashioned, liquid-to-mouth way isn't what I'd call difficult.
May 8, 2014, 3:42pm

When news broke that someone had invented powdered alcohol, it was followed with an obvious question: Who's going to be the first dumbass to post a Vine of himself snorting lines of Palcohol? And yes, it's a dumb idea: In a video statement posted today, Palcohol creator Mark Phillips warned potential customers that snorting his product hurts really bad.

Getting face-meltingly drunk the old-fashioned, liquid-to-mouth way isn't what I'd call difficult. But that fact hasn't stopped intelligent minds from devising ever more efficient ways to suck back the sauce, from crushing beer bongs to funneling alcohol into their butts.


With that in mind, it didn't take long for the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to revoke Palcohol's license, which was the first in the US. (In Europe, where people are apparently more cautious about placing alcohol in non-mouth orifices, powdered alcohol has been available for a few years.)

Even with the license revoked, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) implored the FDA to ban powdered alcohol outright. Schumer's statements came a few days ago, which sparked Phillips' response. The 16-minute video, "The Truth About Palcohol," admits blame for questionable messaging on its website that helped shape the ATTTB's response. At the same time, Phillips says that Schumer (and his ilk, presumably) are "completely ignorant" about Palcohol and how it's used.

To hear Phillips tell it, Palcohol is simply a better method of transporting booze. To make a drink, you add around five ounces of water to Palcohol's resealable pouch, and shake it up until it's all dissolved. (Capri Sun comparisons are apt.) Each pouch apparently has about a shot's worth of liquor, so it's not some mysteriously-powerful brain-detonation device. "It's not some super-concentrated version of alcohol," Phillips says.

Like powdered beer or wine, Palcohol seems primed for a camping trip; the latter causing so much consternation is proof of how powerful poor messaging can be. Phillips lists off a litany of potential problems lobbed at his product—snorting, the ease of sneaking it into movie theaters and other events, the potential for spiking someone's drink, and the idea that it will somehow be easier for kids to get—and says they're all false.

One shot of liquid alcohol versus the equivalent in powdered form.

The sneaking part seems like the most plausible to me, but as Phillips shows, Palcohol is actually less dense than the equivalent liquid alcohol. So while sneaking six shots of Jack Daniels into a football game means shoving pocket toots into your socks, bringing the equivalent in Palcohol would involve taping a gallon-sized ziploc bag of a white powdered substance to your chest—which doesn't seem like a great idea.

The same argument goes for snorting too. Phillips notes the sheer amount of powder you'd have to shove up your nose to get even one shot into your bloodstream. Aside from that, he also says that snorting it is "very painful. It burns, a lot."

Again, it comes down to messaging. Looking at a pile of powdered alcohol, it's clear that snorting it in any appreciable quantity would take willpower better suited to other forms of drinking. According to Phillips, the product has been approved, but its labeling needs to be revised for new approval. He also notes there's a non-ingestible industrial formula that could perhaps be used for fuel.

As Phillips explains, Palcohol is about a third of the weight of liquid alcohol, which would be huge on cutting down shipping costs for everything from airlines to far-flung tourist destinations—which would also cut down on carbon emissions from shipping booze worldwide.

So why has it received so much backlash? I'd say it's because Palcohol wasn't initially marketed as a solution to global warming, while Phillips says it's "because [critics are] ignorant." Regardless, it's a fascinating idea with lots of potential. Just don't put it up your nose.